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March 13, 2004
Kerry's War Record Under Fire

Tomorrow's Telegraph runs a story that puts John Kerry's war narrative of a highly-decorated combat veteran at odds with the recollection of one of his crew, who charges that Kerry displayed cowardice under fire:

The testimony of Steven Gardner, a gunner's mate on the first patrol boat commanded by Mr Kerry in the Mekong delta, contradicts accounts of the senator's military career that depict him as a brave and aggressive lieutenant who won three Purple Hearts and which are a key element of his campaign against George Bush.

"He absolutely did not want to engage the enemy when I was with him," Mr Gardner said in an interview with the Boston Globe, which contacted him about the presidential candidate. "He wouldn't go in there and search. That is why I have a negative viewpoint of John Kerry.

"His initial patterns of behaviour when I met him and served under him were of somebody who ran from the enemy, rather than engaged it."

So far, Kerry's only answer has been to point out that Gardner is a Republican, which isn't much of a response. Douglas Brinkley, Kerry's campaign biographer, echoes Kerry and also chalks it up to politics. However, Gardner responded that he called no one; the Globe called him to talk about Kerry's war record, although it's unclear why they sought him out. It sounds like not every member of Kerry's "band of brothers" retained familial feelings for the young lieutenant, even before he started describing them as war criminals in front of Congress.

This kind of story would have never been brought to light had the Democrats not tried to make George Bush's service record such an issue. Now, everything from that period is fair game, thanks to the big mouth of Terry McAuliffe. In fact, it may prove that McAuliffe's odd and wildly inaccurate attack on Bush was a pre-emptive smear to make Gardner's story look like a response in kind. I doubt that Gardner's story will receive anything like the kind of media coverage that came Bush's way, however.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 13, 2004 10:27 PM

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